The 2022 campaign was marked by notable production peaks and a quality impacted by the various heat waves. This year, the strawberry season seems to be going much better. “Since the beginning of the campaign, we have had alternating sun and rain without very high temperatures or excess water. So far, the quality of the strawberries has been good, and the production has been well spread out over the season,” explains Emeline Vanespen, director of the association of producers Strawberries of France.
A well spread out production campaign
As usual, the period following Easter was less fluid in terms of sales, but the campaign quickly rebalanced itself, even if all the production basins are active. “Volumes have been relatively spread out until now. We are waiting to see how the month of May unfolds because all the basins have now entered into production. But the later regions arrived late, and they will continue to increase in volume while the production from southwestern and southeastern France is starting to decline. As a result, the situation is rather good this year.”
Good promotional actions in the stores
In terms of sales, the French strawberries have been well promoted so far, despite some tensions early in the season. “Retailers were slow to open the French strawberry lines, but they eventually promoted the French origin rather well. Next week, there will be fewer promotional actions, so we will see if the market remains well-balanced in the next two weeks. There has been no inflation in the price of strawberries in general. The promotional actions followed the same price levels as in the years before the Covid crisis. But producer prices have not increased compared to previous years, unlike production costs. The producers are the ones who have unfortunately seen their margins shrink.”
Spanish strawberries less present
Spanish strawberries often compete with the French ones, but it is not really the case this year. “We have not had too many concerns this year about the presence of Spanish strawberries on the French market during the month of May. Although they are sold at lower prices, French consumers seem to be well-focused on the national selection. Two weeks ago, Spain experienced a heatwave that caused a major shock in production followed by quality problems. The tired plants have caused a more rapid decline in production than in previous years.”
A promising first part of the campaign
Staggered production, good promotional actions, constant quality, moderate competition…Many factors have been favorable for consumption so far. But the campaign is not over yet. “Even if the campaign is going well so far, we could still experience the heat that would cause jolts in production and imbalance on the market. It could happen in June when the production of Gariguette strawberries from southwestern France should increase. In the short term, there should be fewer promotional actions for French strawberries in the stores, so it remains to be seen how the market will react. The southwest has also recently experienced stormy weather, which has not impacted the sizes but may have created some quality problems.”
The first part of the French strawberry campaign is well balanced on a fluctuating market, but it is still too early to describe the 2023 season as successful.
For more information:
AOPn Fraises de France